In the event that a driver is arrested for suspicion of drunk driving, a number of charges could follow. If the driver was involved in an accident that results in injury or death, these charges could be serious, including criminally negligent homicide. Prosecutors who charge a defendant with a crime must be precise about what charges they file, because defendants are protected against double jeopardy—being charged with the same crime twice. That means that a prosecutor must get charges right the first time, or they risk losing a bigger case.
Recently, an Alabama prosecutor dropped driving under the influence charges against an alleged drunk driver to ensure that he is prosecuted and convicted for a more serious charge of criminally negligent homicide. Our Birmingham drunk driving defense attorneys are experienced with handling even the most complex DUI cases, including those involving accidents or injury. In addition to providing strategic advocacy for clients, we are abreast of legal news and developments related to drunk driving crimes in Alabama.
According to reports, the District Attorney’s office dropped the driving under the influence charges against a 57-year-old defendant who was accused of drunk driving in fatal March car accident. He is now being charged with criminally negligent homicide for the death of a 44-year-old victim. The alleged drunk driver is being charged with criminally negligent homicide and the DUI charges were dropped. Prosecuted worried that he would plead guilty and then would not be able to be separately charged for criminally negligent homicide due to his protections against double jeopardy.
The U.S. Constitution prevents defendants for being prosecuted on the same charge or a similar charge if they have been acquitted or convicted. In this case, the prosecution filed to drop the DUI charges to ensure that the defendant is charged with the more serious crime of criminally negligent homicide. This case raises interesting issues about DUI and homicide questions, as well as the reality of legal angling between both parties. Defendants should remember that the legal system is complex and that the best strategy is to work with an experienced advocate who understands the nuances of the law, as well as the legal protections working on behalf of the defense.
An attorney for the defendant said double jeopardy was a reality in this case. The judge granted the prosecution’s motion to dismiss the DUI charges. On the same day that the prosecution filed its motion to dismiss, the defense attorney filed to have the DUI charges dismissed. Since the District Attorney’s motion was granted, the second motion will be denied.
According to police reports, the defendant refused to take a breathalyzer after the accident. This means that he will likely face an automatic suspension in addition to the more serious homicide charges. With a search warrant affidavit, police asked the defendant to perform field sobriety tests, which he allegedly failed. In addition to criminal charges, a wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against the defendant.